Published: 6 September 2016
It’s not just eligible adults who will be casting their votes in this year’s local elections.
School children across New Zealand will also experience a local council election first-hand as voters in the Kids Voting 2016 programme.
Supported by Local Government New Zealand as part of its Vote2016 campaign for the October local elections, Kids Voting gives young people aged 11 to 15 the opportunity to engage with real issues, decide which candidates best represent their own views, and vote for real candidates in their region.
This year more than 6,000 students from 42 schools will participate in Kids Voting. In Auckland, where Auckland Council runs its own programme, 11,730 students from over 56 schools will be involved and will vote online, with the results announced at the same time as the actual elections.
Although the students' votes will not affect the outcome of the actual election, the experience of participating in a real democratic process is a powerful way to instil an understanding of the value and importance of local government in New Zealand’s future voters.
LGNZ acting Chief Executive Helen Mexted says a real election provides an excellent opportunity to give young people an introduction to democracy.
“Kids Voting is an engaging teaching resource in political awareness, giving our future voters a real and meaningful experience of the value and importance of the democratic process. They get engaged with local issues, think about what matters and see how their power to vote can make a difference,” Ms Mexted says.
Paraparaumu College is one of the schools participating in Kids Voting and Head of Social Studies Robert Smith says bringing the real issues to the student body is an exciting proposition.
“There are some students here at Paraparaumu College who are quite politically aware, and we are looking forward to the discussion and debate that comes with an election to help all students get involved,” Mr Smith says.
“Kids Voting is a great teaching tool and a way to get the students thinking about the bigger issues of the community. We’ve all got things we’d like to see happen in the places we live, and it’s important to know how you can have your say in these matters. This is a great way start.”
Voting papers in the 2016 local elections will be posted from 14 September and must be returned by 8 October.
Click here to view a list of schools participating in Kids Voting 2016.